Skip to comments.Bush's Nuclear Deterrent Disarmament Plan Opposed by Pentagon
Posted on 05/17/2002 1:39:13 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
US and Russian arms control negotiators have reportedly reached an agreement on the terms for a new treaty between the US and Russia, reducing the size of the US arsenal to between 1700-2200 nuclear warheads each, and President Bush has announced that he plans to sign the measure at the Bush-Putin summit in Moscow on May 24th. The Russians sought a binding agreement in order to render the planned US nuclear disarmament measures "irreversible," while Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld worked to retain provisions in the treaty which would leave the US the option to rearm itself in the event of a crisis, using deactivated warheads to be placed in storage. While the final treaty does not mandate the destruction of deactivated warheads, according to an article today in the Washington Times, a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that, "most of those that are retired are likely to be destroyed." Rumsfeld was reportedly so opposed to the treaty that he tried various strategems in an attempt to sabotage the agreement. He did not desist from his efforts until personally ordered to do so by the President. In order to better understand the rationale for the President's decision to sign this planned bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty, in opposition to the counsel of his own Secretary of Defense, it is necessary to provide some background.
Back in October 2001, President Bush and Russian President Putin of Russia met during their summit in Crawford, Texas, to much fanfare; there at the Bush estate, the two leaders pledged sweeping reductions in their respective strategic nuclear deterrent forces. But dating back to the onset of the Bush-Putin summit, October 2001, Mr. Bush announced his plan to go against the recommendation of his Secretary of Defense and top generals, who know better, and begin unilaterally disarming the US strategic nuclear deterrent from then-7200 warheads, fielded by the US in November 2001, to between 1700-2200 weapons by year-2012--as much as a 75% reduction in deployed warheads. The reason for this proposed range of weapons was reportedly an attempt to placate his generals; however, the Administration has clearly indicated that Bush would prefer to disarm to the low-end level of 1700 warheads. The Pentagon's top commanders, most notably Admiral Mies, then Commander of Strategic Command (STRATCOM) stated at the time that the minimum number of strategic nuclear weapons necessary to constitute an effective deterrent would be 2300 warheads.
President Bush initially had expressed a preference for the implementation of unilateral nuclear disarmament measures. At the Texas summit, President Bush reiterated his past promise to unilaterally disarm the US arsenal well below this minimum number, "regardless of what Russia does." Bush has recently stated his determination to comply with the sweeping nuclear arms reductions required by the new treaty even if it is rejected by the Democrat-controlled Senate. However, the President has since agreed to the codification of his unilateral nuclear disarmament measures now being implemented in the form of a binding bilateral accord with Russia. The primary reason of Bush's policy change was reportedly to appease the Russians for his announced decision in December that the US would 'opt out' of the long defunct ABM Treaty strictures, which forbid it from deploying national missile defenses of any size or effectiveness.
In February 2001, Bush ordered a Nuclear Posture Review to determine what the minimal size of the US nuclear deterrent could be and still successfully meet US requirements to deter a nuclear attack from America's most likely enemies-namely North Korea, Communist China, and a number of other rogue states, including, most notably, Iran, which is now on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. This Nuclear Posture Review was disclosed to the public after considerable delay in January. The Nuclear Posture Review states that the US will transition from the current nuclear triad of land, sea and air-based nuclear weapons to a "New Triad," consisting of "non-nuclear and nuclear strike capabilities, defenses, and responsive infrastructure." The Nuclear Posture Review stated that the US would henceforth have a "Threat Based Force" with a "Capabilities Based Force." In other words, the US will no longer seek to field a force capable of matching the vast Russian strategic nuclear arsenal, but instead will deploy only a force sufficient to counter potential threats from rogue states armed with weapons of mass destruction as well as ballistic missiles to deliver them.
According to the Nuclear Posture Review, the US has abandoned its emphasis on deterring nuclear attack (Mutually Assured Destruction), a concept which has kept the nuclear peace for nearly sixty years, and will resort to more "flexible" measures to counter a wider "spectrum of contingencies." This strategy change was inaugurated by President Bush and some of his top advisors who wanted to reflect their new post-9-11 outlook that Russia is not only not a threat, but is actually a strategic partner and perhaps even an ally in the war against terrorism, to be welcomed into NATO's decision-making councils. In other words, this vast planned reduction in US nuclear might is politically motivated and is not being implemented for any military rationale, which, in this case, was invented to serve and justify the political directives of the President. One wonders if this may be yet another case of the "peace dividend" being implemented prematurely, requiring yet another costly buildup of our military forces, should Russia retains the bulk of her strategic arsenal, as she may well do. Following such a U.S.-issued "peace dividend," Russia could very well emerge again as a major threat at some point in the near future.
Funny, I did not know Cold War II had started. Seems like most of the rest of the world missed it too. When it does, I'll eat my words.
For the rest of you, enjoy your weekend and rest assured your United States Armed Forces are out there fighting the war on terrorism along with our allies (Russia among them) to prevent what happened on 9/11 from ever happening again. And several thousand other professional servicemen and citizens in public and private life are scrutinizing, developing, testing, and delivering to those armed forces members the weapons and systems they have asked for to meet their wartime needs.
Its not a perfect system, but its the best in the world today! Be proud of it.
It's a new time now and thinking has to be out of the box.
I think Bush is getting good advice from Cheney and Rummy. Clinton tried to wreck our military and look what they did for us (quickly) in Trashcanistan.
| Address to the Nation on Reducing United States and Soviet Nuclear Weapons
September 27, 1991
Tonight I'd like to speak with you about our future and the future of the generations to come.
The world has changed at a fantastic pace, with each day writing a fresh page of history before yesterday's ink has even dried. And most recently, we've seen the peoples of the Soviet Union turn to democracy and freedom, and discard a system of government based on oppression and fear.
Like the East Europeans before them, they face the daunting challenge of building fresh political structures, based on human rights, democratic principles, and market economies. Their task is far from easy and far from over. They will need our help, and they will get it.
But these dramatic changes challenge our Nation as well. Our country has always stood for freedom and democracy. And when the newly elected leaders of Eastern Europe grappled with forming their new governments, they looked to the United States. They looked to American democratic principles in building their own free societies. Even the leaders of the U.S.S.R. Republics are reading The Federalist Papers, written by America's founders, to find new ideas and inspiration.
Today, America must lead again, as it always has, as only it can. And we will. We must also provide the inspiration for lasting peace. And we will do that, too. We can now take steps in response to these dramatic developments, steps that can help the Soviet peoples in their quest for peace and prosperity. More importantly, we can now take steps to make the world a less dangerous place than ever before in the nuclear age.
A year ago, I described a new strategy for American defenses, reflecting the world's changing security environment. That strategy shifted our focus away from the fear that preoccupied us for 40 years, the prospect of a global confrontation. Instead, it concentrated more on regional conflicts, such as the one we just faced in the Persian Gulf.
I spelled out a strategic concept, guided by the need to maintain the forces required to exercise forward presence in key areas, to respond effectively in crises, to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent, and to retain the national capacity to rebuild our forces should that be needed.
We are now moving to reshape the U.S. military to reflect that concept. The new base force will be smaller by half a million than today's military, with fewer Army divisions, Air Force wings, Navy ships, and strategic nuclear forces. This new force will be versatile, able to respond around the world to challenges, old and new.
As I just mentioned, the changes that allowed us to adjust our security strategy a year ago have greatly accelerated. The prospect of a Soviet invasion into Western Europe, launched with little or no warning, is no longer a realistic threat. The Warsaw Pact has crumbled. In the Soviet Union, the advocates of democracy triumphed over a coup that would have restored the old system of repression. The reformers are now starting to fashion their own futures, moving even faster toward democracy's horizon.
New leaders in the Kremlin and the Republics are now questioning the need for their huge nuclear arsenal. The Soviet nuclear stockpile now seems less an instrument of national security, and more of a burden. As a result, we now have an unparalleled opportunity to change the nuclear posture of both the United States and the Soviet Union.
If we and the Soviet leaders take the right steps -- some on our own, some on their own, some together -- we can dramatically shrink the arsenal of the world's nuclear weapons. We can more effectively discourage the spread of nuclear weapons. We can rely more on defensive measures in our strategic relationship. We can enhance stability and actually reduce the risk of nuclear war. Now is the time to seize this opportunity.
After careful study and consultations with my senior advisers and after considering valuable counsel from Prime Minister Major, President Mitterrand, Chancellor Kohl, and other allied leaders, I am announcing today a series of sweeping initiatives affecting every aspect of our nuclear forces on land, on ships, and on aircraft. I met again today with our Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I can tell you they wholeheartedly endorse each of these steps.
I will begin with the category in which we will make the most fundamental change in nuclear forces in over 40 years, nonstrategic or theater weapons.
Last year, I cancelled U.S. plans to modernize our ground-launched theater nuclear weapons. Later, our NATO allies joined us in announcing that the alliance would propose the mutual elimination of all nuclear artillery shells from Europe, as soon as short-range nuclear force negotiations began with the Soviets. But starting these talks now would only perpetuate these systems, while we engage in lengthy negotiations. Last month's events not only permit, but indeed demand swifter, bolder action.
I am therefore directing that the United States eliminate its entire worldwide inventory of ground-launched short-range, that is, theater nuclear weapons. We will bring home and destroy all of our nuclear artillery shells and short-range ballistic missile warheads. We will, of course, ensure that we preserve an effective air-delivered nuclear capability in Europe. That is essential to NATO's security.
In turn, I have asked the Soviets to go down this road with us, to destroy their entire inventory of ground-launched theater nuclear weapons: not only their nuclear artillery, and nuclear warheads for short-range ballistic missiles, but also the theater systems the U.S. no longer has, systems like nuclear warheads for air-defense missiles, and nuclear land mines.
Recognizing further the major changes in the international military landscape, the United States will withdraw all tactical nuclear weapons from its surface ships and attack submarines, as well as those nuclear weapons associated with our land-based naval aircraft. This means removing all nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. ships and submarines, as well as nuclear bombs aboard aircraft carriers. The bottom line is that under normal circumstances, our ships will not carry tactical nuclear weapons.
Many of these land and sea-based warheads will be dismantled and destroyed. Those remaining will be secured in central areas where they would be available if necessary in a future crisis.
Again, there is every reason for the Soviet Union to match our actions: by removing all tactical nuclear weapons from its ships and attack submarines; by withdrawing nuclear weapons for land-based naval aircraft; and by destroying many of them and consolidating what remains at central locations. I urge them to do so.
No category of nuclear weapons has received more attention than those in our strategic arsenals. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, START, which President Gorbachev and I signed last July was the culmination of almost a decade's work. It calls for substantial stabilizing reductions and effective verification. Prompt ratification by both parties is essential.
But I also believe the time is right to use START as a springboard to achieve additional stabilizing changes.
First, to further reduce tensions, I am directing that all United States strategic bombers immediately standdown from their alert posture. As a comparable gesture, I call upon the Soviet Union to confine its mobile missiles to their garrisons, where they will be safer and more secure.
Second, the United States will immediately standdown from alert all intercontinental ballistic missiles scheduled for deactivation under START. Rather than waiting for the treaty's reduction plan to run its full 7 year course, we will accelerate elimination of these systems, once START is ratified. I call upon the Soviet Union to do the same.
Third, I am terminating the development of the mobile Peacekeeper ICBM as well as the mobile portions of the small ICBM program. The small single-warhead ICBM will be our only remaining ICBM modernization program. And I call upon the Soviets to terminate any and all programs for future ICBM's with more than one warhead, and to limit ICBM modernization to one type of single warhead missile, just as we have done.
Fourth, I am cancelling the current program to build a replacement for the nuclear short-range attack missile for our strategic bombers.
Fifth, as a result of the strategic nuclear weapons adjustments that I've just outlined, the United States will streamline its command and control procedures, allowing us to more effectively manage our strategic nuclear forces.
As the system works now, the Navy commands the submarine part of our strategic deterrent, while the Air Force commands the bomber and land-based elements. But as we reduce our strategic forces, the operational command structure must be as direct as possible. And I have therefore approved the recommendation of Secretary Cheney and the Joint Chiefs to consolidate operational command of these forces into a U.S. strategic command under one commander with participation from both services.
Since the 1970's, the most vulnerable and unstable part of the U.S. and Soviet nuclear forces has been intercontinental missiles with more than one warhead. Both sides have these ICBM's in fixed silos in the ground where they are more vulnerable than missiles on submarines.
I propose that the U.S. and the Soviet Union seek early agreement to eliminate from their inventories all ICBM's with multiple warheads. After developing a timetable acceptable to both sides, we could rapidly move to modify or eliminate these systems under procedures already established in the START agreement. In short, such an action would take away the single most unstable part of our nuclear arsenals.
But there is more to do. The United States and the Soviet Union are not the only nations with ballistic missiles. Some 15 nations have them now, and in less than a decade that number could grow to 20. The recent conflict in the Persian Gulf demonstrates in no uncertain terms that the time has come for strong action on this growing threat to world peace.
Accordingly, I am calling on the Soviet leadership to join us in taking immediate concrete steps to permit the limited deployment of nonnuclear defenses to protect against limited ballistic missile strikes, whatever their source, without undermining the credibility of existing deterrent forces. And we will intensify our effort to curb nuclear and missile proliferation. These two efforts will be mutually reinforcing. To foster cooperation, the United States soon will propose additional initiatives in the area of ballistic missile early warning.
Finally, let me discuss yet another opportunity for cooperation that can make our world safer.
During last month's attempted coup in Moscow, many Americans asked me if I thought Soviet nuclear weapons were under adequate control. I do not believe that America was at increased risk of nuclear attack during those tense days. But I do believe more can be done to ensure the safe handling and dismantling of Soviet nuclear weapons. Therefore, I propose that we begin discussions with the Soviet Union to explore cooperation in three areas: First, we should explore joint technical cooperation on the safe and environmentally responsible storage, transportation, dismantling, and destruction of nuclear warheads. Second, we should discuss existing arrangements for the physical security and safety of nuclear weapons and how these might be enhanced. And third, we should discuss nuclear command and control arrangements, and how these might be improved to provide more protection against the unauthorized or accidental use of nuclear weapons.
My friend, French President Mitterrand, offered a similar idea a short while ago. After further consultations with the alliance and when the leadership in the U.S.S.R. is ready, we will begin this effort.
The initiatives that I'm announcing build on the new defense strategy that I set out a year ago, one that shifted our focus away from the prospect of global confrontation. We're consulting with our allies on the implementation of many of these steps which fit well with the new post cold war strategy and force posture that we've developed in NATO.
As we implement these initiatives we will closely watch how the new Soviet leadership responds. We expect our bold initiatives to meet with equally bold steps on the Soviet side. If this happens, further cooperation is inevitable. If it does not, then an historic opportunity will have been lost. Regardless, let no one doubt we will still retain the necessary strength to protect our security and that of our allies and to respond as necessary.
In addition, regional instabilities, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and as we saw during the conflict in the Gulf, territorial ambitions of power-hungry tyrants, still require us to maintain a strong military to protect our national interests and to honor commitments to our allies.
Therefore, we must implement a coherent plan for a significantly smaller but fully capable military, one that enhances stability but is still sufficient to convince any potential adversary that the cost of aggression would exceed any possible gain.
We can safely afford to take the steps I've announced today, steps that are designed to reduce the dangers of miscalculation in a crisis. But to do so, we must also pursue vigorously those elements of our strategic modernization program that serve the same purpose. We must fully fund the B - 2 and SDI program. We can make radical changes in the nuclear postures of both sides to make them smaller, safer, and more stable. But the United States must maintain modern nuclear forces including the strategic triad and thus ensure the credibility of our deterrent.
Some will say that these initiatives call for a budget windfall for domestic programs. But the peace dividend I seek is not measured in dollars but in greater security. In the near term, some of these steps may even cost money. Given the ambitious plan I have already proposed to reduce U.S. defense spending by 25 percent, we cannot afforded to make any unwise or unwarranted cuts in the defense budget that I have submitted to Congress. I am counting on congressional support to ensure we have the funds necessary to restructure our forces prudently and implement the decisions that I have outlined tonight.
Twenty years ago when I had the opportunity to serve this country as Ambassador to the United Nations. I once talked about the vision that was in the minds of the U.N.'s founders, how they dreamed of a new age when the great powers of the world would cooperate in peace as they had as allies in war.
Today I consulted with President Gorbachev. And while he hasn't had time to absorb the details, I believe the Soviet response will clearly be positive. I also spoke with President Yeltsin, and he had a similar reaction, positive, hopeful.
Now, the Soviet people and their leaders can shed the heavy burden of a dangerous and costly nuclear arsenal which has threatened world peace for the past five decades. They can join us in these dramatic moves toward a new world of peace and security.
Tonight, as I see the drama of democracy unfolding around the globe, perhaps we are closer to that new world then every before. The future is ours to influence, to shape, to mold. While we must not gamble that future, neither can we forfeit the historic opportunity now before us.
It has been said, ``Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for. It's a thing to be achieved.'' The United States has always stood where duty required us to stand. Now let them say that we led where destiny required us to lead, to a more peaceful, hopeful future. We cannot give a more precious gift to the children of the world.
Thank you, good night, and God bless the United States of America.
Note: The President spoke at 8:02 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom; President Francois Mitterrand of France; Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany; Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney; President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union; and President Boris Yeltsin of the Republic of Russia.
PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH
LOL! It doesn't take clear vision to see the past.
What an utter fraud. He may have had diplomatic reasons to say this, but it is a known falsehood. We were within a day of the conspirators having the codes to launch, and multiple sources have said they fully intended to. The man carrying them got intercepted in Moscow by the crowd.
Carter--Cold War ongoing, Soviet Union hostile.
Bush--Cold War over, Russians "cooperative."
You say this as it's a fact. If you posted facts, real facts, about how we're doomed, I haven't seen it.
I think RW2 is saying that Russia is still an enemy, not "cooperative." And he also is alarmed that we may have less nukes than Russia, even though we have enough.
(For some, but clearly not all, of the readers who posted the posts above this one, who are too ignorant to understand what I meant by that, the Treaty of Locarno was the major modification to the Treaty of Versailles which rewarded the recalcitrant, lying and deceptive Weimar Germany with a framework of guaranteed continued appeasesment by the Triple Entente powers as well as a major "see no evil" message vis a vis their already extensive, secret and evil war preparations. Hitler would eventually inherit all of the preps, and it would allow him to surprise the world regarding how quickly Germany would turn to highly effective overt aggression. We have failed to learn from history once again. Pay heed.)
The problem with both Reagan and the two Bushes is that they have been too optimistic and idealistic about missile defense. They have all seemed to think that if you build a good enough shield you won't need any deterrence at all. It is one thing to not rely exclusively on MAD. It is another to think we don't need an offensive capability. In order for missile defense to be effective, the enemy has to believe that you have a second strike capability.